StudentsDave Loan CUPE Communications

Newfoundland and Labrador broke new ground this summer as it became the first province to eliminate student loans in favour of a non-repayable grant plan.

The grants, offered only to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who are studying in-province, will cut student debt by as much as 44.5 per cent, according to a government statement.

Over 7,000 students will benefit from the program, which provides $140 per week to full-time students.

Part-time students will receive up to $500 per semester of part-time study to a maximum of $1,000 per year.

Under the new program, a four-year undergraduate student at Memorial University in St. John’s would have less than $14,787 in debt this year, down from $26,000 in the 2003-04 academic year.

Student representatives praised the announcement.

“It means students are graduating with less debt,” said Travis Perry, the provincial chair of the Canadian Federation of Students. “They’re able to get out of their program of study, start a family, purchase a home and meaningfully contribute.”